February 27, 2014

cafe magic.

Currently I'm sitting at a wooden table that's engrained with aged coffee stains and saucer rings. Crumbs that escaped the barista's last swipe of the surface crunch under my laptop. Beside me two women take endless photos with their iPhones of eachother, of their teapot, of the view of the castle outside of the window. At the top of the castle a flag is barely visible, waving weakly in the foggy grey skies of Edinburgh. Wayne sits across from me, immersed in Puritan thought and word. He's better at nursing his coffee -- there's still half a cup left. I've kept just a few remaining dregs in mine to keep the barista from taking my cup away and therefore, without actually saying anything, telling me it's time I left. Not so, barista! I paid for this table. I'm going to get my two hours' worth of sitting and absorbing and writing. Take that, you Scottish lass, you. 

Being here for three months without income means being very tight with our cash. We budget. We don't buy anything unnecessary (usually!). We go to the grocery at the right times to get discounted bread and meat (between 4 and 6 pm, baby!). We live in a tiny flat and sleep in a tiny bed (really -- it's ridiculously small) and make do with one pot and one frying pan. Despite all this scrimping, however, into our budget we made sure to include weekly cafe dates. We spend a lot of time in the library and in our flat, but figured we ought to absorb at least some of the culture through the wonder that is the UK cafe. Plus... we love coffee. 

This week's cafe of choice: The Elephant House, otherwise known as the "birthplace" of Harry Potter. Apparently JK Rowling spent a good deal of time writing her first Harry potter novel here back in the late 90s. The cafe has run with it and makes a good deal of cash off the tourist draw which is pretty brilliant on their part. It really is nice and bright and a great place to work, so I could see why a frustrated author would come here to stew over characters and dead-end plot lines. I'm currently trying to absorb some of the Rowling writing vibe... and...

Nothing. No millions in my future, I'm afraid. It must be in another cafe she frequented with Harry... either there, or in the toilets here at The Elephant House. The walls are plastered with love letters and quotes from HP fans.... quite sweet. 

{This post written in July 2013}

February 25, 2014

week nine.

Having been off on our continental tour for the two weeks previous, we spent week nine appreciating all the wonderful qualities of our home base that we had missed so much while away -- like these wild sunsets from up on Salisbury Crags. 

Wayne kept plugging away on his research and writing, I kept busy with drawing and laundry and trying to let my poor feet heal after the excessive amount of walking done whilst on our trip... unfortunately in Edinburgh it's pretty much impossible to get around without having to face an enormous flight of stairs at some point... the joys of a city built on hills. 

The atrium of the National Museum, located just around the corner from our flat. If you're a penny pincher who loves a good museum, Edinburgh is the place to go. Free entry into pretty much every museum in the city all day every day.

Wayne celebrated his birthday that week! We started the day off right with coffee and presents and croissants and then, per Wayne's birthday request, spent the morning exploring the John Knox Museum, a house in Old Town where the fiery preacher was said to have died. 

 The guy was a bit of a firecracker. I mean seriously -- check out that beard. 

And of course we had to pay a visit to the preacher's burial site -- which happens to be parking space no. 23 behind St. Gile's Cathedral. Nice, Edinburgh. Real classy.

February 12, 2014


Just over a year ago some friends of ours gave their newborn the sweetest, sunniest name a baby girl could have -- Clementine Summer. In my usual style, I sent them a congrats card about 7 months late. Can't teach a procrastinator new tricks, that's what I always say. 

Clementine means merciful. I think that's lovely. 

February 06, 2014

polite coupons.

British people are wonderfully polite. No, probably not all British people, but as a general rule, the attitude of this people group is one of stand-offish politeness. They don't want any drama nor any funny business a'tall, please and thanks. Further proof of this character trait was found on a coupon for boxed tea:

"This coupon can only be used as part payment towards your next purchase of Twinings Tea. Only one coupon can be used per transaction and it cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Please do not attempt to use this coupon against any other product as refusal to accept may cause embarrassment and delay at the checkout. This coupon is not redeemable on internet sites. Valid in the UK and ROI only."

And we wouldn't want to cause embarrassment and delay at the checkout, would we? Even my coupons are reminding me to be polite... Perhaps America would do well to adopt such tactics.

{This post written in July 2013}

February 04, 2014

week eight.

Having spent a solid chunk of our 12 day excursion with Dutch relatives, we spent much of week eight saying things like, "I need a kopje koffie" and "heh heh" and "so." 

If you didn't grow up with Dutch grandparents with thick Dutch accents, you won't understand the above. But if you do... well, I'm going to bet you were just transported back to your Grandma's doily-covered living room on a Sunday afternoon.

 Bicycling! Obviously. Look how Dutch I be.

Wayne blends in pretty well too! He has a nice oranje hat. 

Wayne also experienced having the chain come off his bike and then he had to fix it -- check out those Dutch bicycle grease hands of power, my friends. That is the stuff of Dutch genes. 

 Our last leg of the trip found us in jolly old London, England!

Hullo, Kensington Palace! Duchess Kate was hidden away inside there somewhere, three days away from birthing a future king named George. 

London was hot and smelly. They were experiencing a brutal heat wave/drought thing. It was awful. We were tired and sun-stroked. Wayne caught a bug. We were what the kids call a hot mess. Hot messes? I can't confirm the grammar on that. 

Look at those forced smiles. Our eyes are saying "Yes, we just walked across the whole dang city of London despite feeling nauseous and experiencing horrible foot pain because we are not going to spend hundreds of pounds on taking the underground, that would be foolish. And we're going to smile with the Tower Bridge in the background and look like we're loving this, doggone it."

We pretty much didn't like London. Sorry London. You were too hot and too expensive. At the end of the week we hopped on our train and rode the coast all the way back up to Edinburgh. Cooler air and that delightful sea breeze met us as we stepped onto the platform at Waverly Station... happy to be home.